National Association of Filipino Priests holds historic assembly in Newark

Nearly 400 Filipino priests gathered for a cultural celebration and Mass at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on October 26, 2023.

Archbishop Caccia leads mass for 400 Filipino priests in cultural event

IN a historic event, nearly 400 Filipino Catholic priests from across the United States came together in Newark for a cultural celebration on October 26. The gathering took place at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart and featured a Mass presided over by Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations.

This momentous occasion was part of the National Association of Filipino Priests (NAFP-USA)’s Fourth Assembly and marked the first time such a significant number of Filipino priests congregated in the U.S. The festivities commenced with a joyful procession of Filipino Catholics carrying symbolic items representing the religious traditions of the Philippines, such as Simbang Gabi and Sinulog.

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, presided over a Mass of nearly 400 Filipino Catholic priests from across the U.S. at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on October 26, 2023.

During the Mass, Archbishop Caccia reflected on his previous role as the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines. He fondly recalled the warmth and hospitality of the locals, comparing it to the nation’s humid climate. He commended the immigrant priests for their dedication to spreading the gospel across the globe, emphasizing that being a disciple is synonymous with being a missionary.

A Marian statue is carried into Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart as part of a Filipino cultural procession that preceded a Mass of nearly 400 Filipino Catholic priests from across the U.S. on October 26, 2023.

Archbishop Caccia stated in his homily, “You priests are all the light because you go and tell the good news to everyone in all parts of the world.”

The NAFP-USA’s Fourth Assembly, held from October 24 to 27, coincided with Filipino American History Month.

An image of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila is carried into Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart as part of a Filipino cultural procession that preceded a Mass of nearly 400 Filipino Catholic priests from across the U.S. on October 26, 2023.

The gathering featured various events, including a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on October 25, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen of the Archdiocese of New York. Auxiliary Bishop Michael A. Saporito from the Archdiocese of Newark delivered a keynote address on “Priesthood in a Synodal Church” on October 26 at the Hilton Meadowlands. The convention concluded on October 27 with Bishop Oscar Solis of the Diocese of Salt Lake City presiding over a Mass that emphasized the importance of unity among Filipino priests on their journey.

Hundreds of Filipino lay Catholics — many dressed in colorful traditional attire — participated in a cultural celebration and Mass at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on October 26, 2023.a

New Jersey is home to a substantial Filipino population, with 143,845 Filipinos residing in the state, according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data. A 2023 Pew Research Center survey revealed that a majority of Filipino Americans (54%) identify as Catholic. To engage this community, the Archdiocese of Newark’s Filipino Apostolate offers various spiritual programs, gatherings, and social justice initiatives. g

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